THE MAIL

February 16 2004

THE MAIL

February 16 2004

THE MAIL

‘If this idea of not informing students of their proficiency is carried into the workplace, they will be confused when issued pink slips, one after another.’

Neil gillespie, Qualicum Beach, B.C.

Firing back

Cops, like everyone else, are subject to human frailties (“Under the gun,” Crime, Feb. 2). But how about the politicians who benefit from criminal practices? Let’s also weed out the judges who take bribes. Let’s weed out the lawyers who purposefully slow up the court system, allowing criminals to go free. And, sure, let’s go after the crooked cops, but let’s not start at the bottom of the food chain.

Joseph Lederman, Plattsville, Ont.

As a serving constable of an Ontario police service, I am very proud of my profession. I concur that police must have a professional standard to follow, but how much broader accountability does lawyer Peter Biro want to ram down the police service’s throat without hindering its effectiveness in protecting the public? Perhaps the accountability he proposes would be better undertaken by the lawyers, the judges and bodies such as the Special Investigations Unit. Compelling them to articulate their practices and justify their decisions—as police regularly do— would bring balance to the justice system.

Ian McLellan, Keswick, Ont.

How ironic is the blue wall of silence, when time and again on the news we hear police complaining of witnesses not coming forward to volunteer information? Perhaps our officers should lead by example. SCOtt Jackson, Cobourg, Ont.

While your national affairs writer Charlie Gillis paints an informative picture of policing issues, the same cannot be said of Carleton University professor Barry Leighton, who is quoted as claiming “there are probably more lawyers dipping into their clients’ trust accounts than there are police dipping into money paid to agents.” As a lawyer, I object to this cheap shot. For Leighton to allege that this type of theft is common shows his profound ignorance. Clients must be able to trust their legal counsel, and slurs of this nature can only undermine such trust. Jay Josefo, Toronto

Funny thing, democracy

I’m going to say bluntly what everyone else is tap-dancing around (“Running for all they’re worth,” Politics, Feb 2): Belinda Stronach is 37 years old, has no university degree, has no previous reputation for ideas and simply took over the company created and built by her father. She is not a veteran executive who ascended the corporate ladder and has years of practical experience. She is a dilettante of the highest order, and no amount of wily campaign strategy will be able to hide that. Her involvement is an insult to career politicians who have devoted their lives to serving the public. If I had a million dollars, I would short her stock. Wayne Rosen, Calgary

A capital offence

How was it possible that Canada’s fourth largest city was ignored in your cover story on our major metropolitan areas (“How to make our cities work,” Cover, Jan. 19)? References to Ottawa were only to the federal government. Our capital city embraces a great deal more than just the seat of government. It is one of the country’s most beautiful, vibrant and livable cities. Gord Atkinson, Boynton Beach, Fla.

I do not think it is shortage of funds that impairs our cities but rather mismanagement. City officials, with all due respect, need help managing those huge budgets—they need financial tools, expertise and sometimes audits to ensure ends meet. All Canadians do it on a day-to-day basis—I will not spend more than my income, and when I spend, I prioritize. Why does government—federal, provincial and municipal—ignore the fact that we taxpayers also have limited resources and cannot finance shortfalls? When will they realize that being entrusted with our hard-earned money, they have a responsibility to maximize our benefits, not their expenditure? Nancy Yacoub, Windsor, Ont.

Juicy debate I Are we sacrificing children’s health for dollars?

Dietician Karen Graham from Portage la Prairie, Man., worries about replacing soft drinks with juices in school vending machines (“Soft drinks,” Up Front, Jan. 19). Juice often is more sugary than soft drinks, and unsweetened apple juice, for one, can have more sugar than Coke. “We all know,” Graham says, “that vending machines are a great source of school income.”

Faux food

It took new obesity and diabetes figures, two mad Canuck cows, Chinese civet cats, Asia’s chickens and a fish study to get our attention that something is terribly wrong with our food system (“Tainted food,” Cover, Jan. 26). Thank you for helping more North Americans become local, organic and choosy. I look forward to a time when I walk into the high school where I teach, and I can’t spot a Big Gulp or a bag of Skittles anywhere. Elinor Campbell-Lawrence, Kitchener, Ont.

Anyone alarmed by media reports of health concerns with our food supply needs to start questioning his/her priorities and choices. Perhaps it is realistic and important to spend a larger portion of income on food, just as more money is found to spend on automobiles as the costs of gas, insurance and the vehicles themselves climb. It is consumers who will ultimately decide whether or not our food supply is safe and sustainable.

Kim Muddiman, Clearwater, B.C.

After recent beef and salmon scares, I was preaching the virtues of vegetarianism when my teenage daughter interrupted me with, “What about genetic foods, Dad.” Yes, what do we eat without risking something that may show up a few years from now?

Sudhir Jain, Calgary

Why geography class matters

In regards to the story published in your Feb. 2 issue, “John Intini starts a sentence ... Ian Hanomansing finishes it,” it should be noted that Amherst is located in Nova Scotia, not New Brunswick. Amherst is on the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border and immediately across you will find Sackville, N.B. I just thought you might want to know in case you ever run a story on, say, Hull, Ontario.

Richard Brown, Toronto

The true toll of logging

As the wife of a logger, I felt my throat tight-

en as I read your article (“Blood in the woods,” British Columbia, Jan. 19)—the same feeling I got every time I received a quiet word that an accident had occurred and a helicopter was on its way in. My anxiety isn’t so immediate now. My husband, like numerous Others, can no longer work in the same community in which he lives since access to harvestable timber is so restricted. Depending on the distance these men must commute— and the remoteness of where they go—they can be absent from their families for days, weeks or, in my case, months. You might wish to consider logging’s social impact on its communities by way of alcoholism, divorce and the effects of absentee fathers. The danger to a logger and his family isn’t only physical.

Alison Gibson, Sechelt, B.C.

A good story, but one thing is missing—from stump to mill, all is based on production performance. The big corporate mills set the price for the woods delivered. These prices are so low that the contractors responsible for delivery to the mill have to work long hours in order to make a living. Safety is compromised and responsibility for accidents lies with the contractors.

Frank Lehmann, Burns Lake, B.C.

Grading students

Society wishes to have students at all levels receive a good education. Society also wishes, and needs, a method of assessment that shows the level of achievement students have reached

(“How grades fail our kids,” Cover, Jan. 12) . There is nothing contradictory about these two premises. The challenge has always been to have teachers who understand the two premises and who are able to give the students and society what is needed.

Frank DeVisser, Hanover, Ont.

Consumers will ultimately decide whether or not our food supply is safe and sustainable

I am sure many readers have also heard the following questions or have perhaps asked them themselves during their school years:

“Will this be on the exam?” or “Do we need to know this for the test?” I consistently received good grades in school because I was able to cram and regurgitate, but whether I really understood what was being taught to me is another issue.

Denis Nobert, Zurich, Switzerland

Understanding addicts

Believe me, I wish I had bought shares in the patch, considering the number of them I used before I realized I had just replaced one addiction with another (“How I prevailed vs. ciggies,” Essay, Jan. 26). I think I am finally there—as in quit for life—but I will always consider myself an addict. Patricia Pearson’s article depicts the real barriers that intelligent, motivated and sincere smokers are up against. Because when it boils down to it, Health Canada, health insurance plans, the Canadian Cancer Society and all the others that let on they want to help—they are truly not there when you do need them.

Kim Stefanyshyn, Winnipeg

I find Patricia Pearson’s essay to be full of finger-pointing and blame-seeking toward the Canadian and Ontario governments. Not only does Pearson shirk her own responsibility for her addiction, but her blatant negativity sets herself up for continued failure. I am one of those individuals who was diagnosed with cancer after living in a household for 20-plus years with a parent who was a very heavy smoker. As a mother, it behooves Pearson to dig deep inside her soul to locate the strength to save her children from potential mommy-inflicted harm. Human resiliency is capable of transcending even greater challenges than nicotine addiction.

Natasha Koziol, London, Ont.

Not enough questions

“The unknown war” (Uganda, Jan. 12) was a good article covering the atrocities and human miseries we hear about every day. But it also raises serious questions. Why do horrific things like this happen in Africa? Why is Joseph Kony, leader of the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army, doing what he does? Which countries and companies sell him arms? These are the questions the article did not even raise, never mind try to answer.

A. Hilda Wagstaffe, Winnipeg